The village of Algár near Cádiz is asking the United Nations to declare the practice of chatting outdoors at night as a cultural treasure. Mayor José Carlos Sánchez says the centuries-old custom of dragging chairs into the street to catch up on the news of the day is the opposite of social media. “It’s about face-to-face conversations,” he added.
The summer evening ritual of “charlas al fresco” (chats in the open air) takes place in towns and villages across the country and Sr Sánchez wants to safeguard the tradition. He says the benefits include the savings made by switching off the air-conditioning for a few hours, as well as the forging of a sense of community. The mayor adds that it also helps keep loneliness at bay as neighbours share their stories and problems.
It may take a while to achieve, but the Mayor says he has had no criticism of his plan from Algár’s 1,400 residents. He hopes it will align the custom alongside the whistled language of La Gomera in the Canary Islands, the human towers of Cataluña, and the Fiesta of the Patios in Córdoba, all of which already enjoy UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status.